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Old 01-08-2006, 04:48 PM   #1
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Question Solar Charging Panel and Cell Phone Antenna

I have a new "Battery Saver Plus" by ICP Global that plugs into any 12 volt plug and by using its solar panel is supposed to keep the starting (or house) battery(ies) from running down when the coach is just sitting. It came with my newly acquired '89 370LE. Seems to be a quality unit. Anyone ever used one of these to keep your battery from running down? How well do they work? The ICP web site looks professional, and the description of this battery saver sounds reasonable.

Second inquiry: My coach has the optional "Cell phone antenna" on the front windshield. The inside wire disappears into the overhead. I'm assuming it's routed down to somewhere under the dash, and was intended for the early vehicle mounted cell phones that had connections for an external antenna (I actually had several of those ). If that's true, I'm also assuming it's not going to do a "modern" clip type cell phone any good. Is that correct?

Thanks to any who can help with these two questions.

Best,

Tim
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Old 01-08-2006, 07:56 PM   #2
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Tim,

Typically, a battery charger needs to put out a sufficient voltage to 'charge' your batteries, actually re-energizing your electrolyte. This process may take a very long time with a small solar charger like the one you described. Does the unit list it's output voltage and amperage? These numbers will determine the rate of charge that the solar panel will be adding to your batteries. It's impossible to tell unless it's listed on the unit or their brochure, or you have a good volt meter and DC amp clamp attachment to measure the unit's output while in operation. An example: If you have a battery with a 200 amp/hour capacity and it's in a 20% state of discharge (typical) and your solar unit has a 0.5 amp charge rate, it will take 80- hours of constant sunshine for your battery to re-charge. 200 X 20%(battery amount needed to be returned for full charge)=40 amp/hours divided by 1/2 amp charge rate =80 hours to re-charge. That's almost 4 days of constant light. Not very practical IMHO.

I also have a few cell phones that used a thru the windshield antenna. The new generation of phones don't have any type of external antenna input so consider the antenna a nice decoration.
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lewster
Tim,

Typically, a battery charger needs to put out a sufficient voltage to 'charge' your batteries, actually re-energizing your electrolyte. This process may take a very long time with a small solar charger like the one you described. Does the unit list it's output voltage and amperage? These numbers will determine the rate of charge that the solar panel will be adding to your batteries. It's impossible to tell unless it's listed on the unit or their brochure, or you have a good volt meter and DC amp clamp attachment to measure the unit's output while in operation. An example: If you have a battery with a 200 amp/hour capacity and it's in a 20% state of discharge (typical) and your solar unit has a 0.5 amp charge rate, it will take 80- hours of constant sunshine for your battery to re-charge. 200 X 20%(battery amount needed to be returned for full charge)=40 amp/hours divided by 1/2 amp charge rate =80 hours to re-charge. That's almost 4 days of constant light. Not very practical IMHO.

I also have a few cell phones that used a thru the windshield antenna. The new generation of phones don't have any type of external antenna input so consider the antenna a nice decoration.
lewster,

Thanks for the information. This solar device isn't truly a charger, but simply a device to keep fully charged batteries from running down while the vehicle is parked unplugged from AC current. The model I have puts out 135mA @ 15 volts. It's definitely NOT designed to RECHARGE anything. Do you think it would keep a fully charged battery up? I have several chargers that trickle down to zero when the battery has need of a charge. I was trying to see if this solar device would allow me to park the vehicle UNPLUGGED, but still maintain the starting battery in a fully charged state. What do you think?

I sort of figured the cell phone antenna was "dated". I don't even see them on cars anymore.

I appreciate your time in responding. I would like your thoughts on whether the solar device will maintain a good fully charged battery.

Best,

Tim
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:18 PM   #4
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Some of the current cell phones, Motorola in particular, have "car kits" available for their phones. However, not all cell carriers use 800 mhz which is the frequency range of most cellular antennas. Here in North Florida, our 800 mhz carriers are Alltel, Cingular and Nextel. PCS, (1900 mhz) are T-Mobile, Sprint PCS, Verizon and Cingular. Up in Ohio it is Alltel, Verizon and Nextel on 800 Mhz, with Sprint PCS, Cingular, and T-Mobile on PCS 1900 Mhz. I think North Coast PCS was bought by Verizon, so they may have 1900 Mhz towers now.
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Pick
Some of the current cell phones, Motorola in particular, have "car kits" available for their phones. However, not all cell carriers use 800 mhz which is the frequency range of most cellular antennas. Here in North Florida, our 800 mhz carriers are Alltel, Cingular and Nextel. PCS, (1900 mhz) are T-Mobile, Sprint PCS, Verizon and Cingular. Up in Ohio it is Alltel, Verizon and Nextel on 800 Mhz, with Sprint PCS, Cingular, and T-Mobile on PCS 1900 Mhz. I think North Coast PCS was bought by Verizon, so they may have 1900 Mhz towers now.
Thanks for this. I'm located in souteastern Virginia. I have Alltel and a Motorola T720 phone, but there is no optional "car kit" that allows me to connect to an external antenna. It has several kits, but none do that. I haven't had any trouble with calls, but was really more checking the functions and purpose of the coach mounted antenna. Sounds like it's gone the way of 8-track tapes, at least in my case.

I appreciate your help.

Regards,

Tim
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Old 01-08-2006, 09:35 PM   #6
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This link shows an adaptor for your phone to connect to a Wilson antenna.

http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/ada...t-motorola.htm
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Old 01-08-2006, 09:48 PM   #7
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This link shows an adaptor for your phone to connect to a Wilson antenna.

http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/ada...t-motorola.htm
Guy,

Thanks. I had no idea they were available. Now I guess I'll HAVE to go out and locate where Airstream put the plug from their antenna. Then I'll have to see if that adapter fits the MoHo plug.

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Tim
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Old 01-10-2006, 11:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
I have a new "Battery Saver Plus" by ICP Global that plugs into any 12 volt plug and by using its solar panel is supposed to keep the starting (or house) battery(ies) from running down when the coach is just sitting. It came with my newly acquired '89 370LE. Seems to be a quality unit. Anyone ever used one of these to keep your battery from running down? How well do they work? The ICP web site looks professional, and the description of this battery saver sounds reasonable.
I kept the 2 Delco Voyager batteries charged with a 5 watt PulseTech Solargizer solar powered charger/maintainer. I could run several fans during the day, one at night and the charger always kept the batteries in great shape. Some people have said that the 5 watt would not keep them charged but the Solargizer did a good job. The Delcos were in perfect condition after 4 1/5 years. I also used a BatteryMinder 1 amp 110 volt charger from time to time which is also the same type of multi-stage charger as the Solargizer. BatteryMinder also makes a 15 watt solar multi-stage charger. Go to www.batterymart.com to look at the BatteryMinders.
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Old 01-11-2006, 09:09 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by davidz71
I kept the 2 Delco Voyager batteries charged with a 5 watt PulseTech Solargizer solar powered charger/maintainer. I could run several fans during the day, one at night and the charger always kept the batteries in great shape. Some people have said that the 5 watt would not keep them charged but the Solargizer did a good job. The Delcos were in perfect condition after 4 1/5 years. I also used a BatteryMinder 1 amp 110 volt charger from time to time which is also the same type of multi-stage charger as the Solargizer. BatteryMinder also makes a 15 watt solar multi-stage charger. Go to www.batterymart.com to look at the BatteryMinders.
Craig,

Thanks for this additional info. I've looked at the BatteryMinders site, and I may eventually go with one of them. Here's what I have at the present time: 1) the ICP solar "Battery Saver Plus" 135mA, 2) a Shauer(sp?) tri-level charger (2A, 10A, 50A), and 3)a store brand 10A tapering charger. The last 2 chargers taper to nothing and then just "hit" the batteries to keep them up. Also, I could keep the MoHo plugged in and run the charger/converter - which puts out a constant 13.8V. Do you have any opinion on whether any of these would be sufficient to keep the batteries in good shape? I've owned trailers for year, and have generally just kept them plugged in and let the trailer charger/converter keep the batteries up. I've never had any trouble with that method, but I've gotten some feedback from some of the Forum guys who say they've fried their batteries doing that. I'd be very interested in your experience and opinion about these methods.

Thanks for taking the time to share your info.

Best,

Tim
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Old 01-11-2006, 11:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
lewster,
I sort of figured the cell phone antenna was "dated". I don't even see them on cars anymore.
Tim
I think external cell phone antennas are a great idea that is under utilized.

Many current cell phones have an external antenna port, however, it may be hidden under a removable rubber cover. As another poster mentioned, Wilson makes lots of adapters for these ports.

The increased range advantage becomes noticable if you leave the cities and the Interstate highways behind. The increased signal strength also improves the cell phone functioning as a modem for your laptop. The external antenna also reduce the rf radiation that your body receives. Whether this radiation is harmful is still being investigated.
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Old 01-11-2006, 12:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
Craig,

Thanks for this additional info. I've looked at the BatteryMinders site, and I may eventually go with one of them. Here's what I have at the present time: 1) the ICP solar "Battery Saver Plus" 135mA, 2) a Shauer(sp?) tri-level charger (2A, 10A, 50A), and 3)a store brand 10A tapering charger. The last 2 chargers taper to nothing and then just "hit" the batteries to keep them up. Also, I could keep the MoHo plugged in and run the charger/converter - which puts out a constant 13.8V. Do you have any opinion on whether any of these would be sufficient to keep the batteries in good shape? I've owned trailers for year, and have generally just kept them plugged in and let the trailer charger/converter keep the batteries up. I've never had any trouble with that method, but I've gotten some feedback from some of the Forum guys who say they've fried their batteries doing that. I'd be very interested in your experience and opinion about these methods.

Thanks for taking the time to share your info.

Best,

Tim
Tim, I'm not familiar with the brand charger you are referring to. If it is a "smart charger" or one which gives a boost charge until the battery is around 90% charged, tapers off for a period of time and then keeps a maintenance charge on the battery when it starts to drop below a certain voltage then you are probably OK. My next question is, do your chargers have a desulphation mode where they shock or pulse the battery to knock the sulphur off the lead plates so that it mixes back with the battery water/acid?Sulphur buildup on plates is one of the major contributors to battery failure.

My understanding of the problem with some of the Univolt chargers is that they continue a high charge longer than they should or they malfunction and boil the water out. While any charger can malfunction, your charger should be a multi-stage charger with the desulphation mode to make your battery last longer. 80% of my camping has been without external power sources other than the 5 watt and 30 watt solar panels. When hooked to shore power when I had my '77 with Magnetek charger, I only had it plugged in when I was using many of my 12 v. electrical appliances such as the 3 roof fans, 2 internal fans, stove exhaust fan and water pump within a short period of time. The trailer did not have a single parasitic draw such as LPG detector or frigerator panel lighting so this was never a problem when boondocking. I have left the trailer at the deer hunting camp for up to 2 months with only the 5 watt panel keeping the battery up when using the trailer 2 1/2 days per week. I never had a problem with weak batteries and the battery gauge always showed in the GOOD area.
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Old 01-11-2006, 12:28 PM   #12
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I think external cell phone antennas are a great idea that is under utilized.

Many current cell phones have an external antenna port, however, it may be hidden under a removable rubber cover. As another poster mentioned, Wilson makes lots of adapters for these ports.

The increased range advantage becomes noticable if you leave the cities and the Interstate highways behind. The increased signal strength also improves the cell phone functioning as a modem for your laptop. The external antenna also reduce the rf radiation that your body receives. Whether this radiation is harmful is still being investigated.


Thanks for the additional expertise. Always helpful to get new info I didn't know. I'll check into an adapter for my Motorola T720, but there's not one listed in their manual. Do ALL cell phones have connections for external antenna? guy99 has a link to an adapter for a Wilson antenna, but I'm assuming that doesn't necessarily mean it will fit my A/S. I'll also try to locate where under the dash (?) the external antenna has a connection. Anyone happen to know that?

Thanks for the advice.

Tim
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Old 01-11-2006, 12:33 PM   #13
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Tim, I'm not familiar with the brand charger you are referring to. If it is a "smart charger" or one which gives a boost charge until the battery is around 90% charged, tapers off for a period of time and then keeps a maintenance charge on the battery when it starts to drop below a certain voltage then you are probably OK. My next question is, do your chargers have a desulphation mode where they shock or pulse the battery to knock the sulphur off the lead plates so that it mixes back with the battery water/acid?Sulphur buildup on plates is one of the major contributors to battery failure.

My understanding of the problem with some of the Univolt chargers is that they continue a high charge longer than they should or they malfunction and boil the water out. While any charger can malfunction, your charger should be a multi-stage charger with the desulphation mode to make your battery last longer. 80% of my camping has been without external power sources other than the 5 watt and 30 watt solar panels. When hooked to shore power when I had my '77 with Magnetek charger, I only had it plugged in when I was using many of my 12 v. electrical appliances such as the 3 roof fans, 2 internal fans, stove exhaust fan and water pump within a short period of time. The trailer did not have a single parasitic draw such as LPG detector or frigerator panel lighting so this was never a problem when boondocking. I have left the trailer at the deer hunting camp for up to 2 months with only the 5 watt panel keeping the battery up when using the trailer 2 1/2 days per week. I never had a problem with weak batteries and the battery gauge always showed in the GOOD area.
Craig,

They are all "smart chargers" but I've got to check on the desulphation mode. I doubt any of them have that. Perhaps the newest one (2A, 10A, 50A) might, but not the others. What do you think of me unplugging the MoHo from house current and attempting the solor unit for a trial? It seems to me if that works I've got what I need. Does that sound reasonable?

Thanks so much for your help.

Tim
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Old 01-12-2006, 10:43 AM   #14
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Tim,
I experimented many times over the last 4 1/2 years with the battery system in my '77 Excella 500. I started with 2 new grp. 27 Delco Voyager maintenance free batteries. Some said that you had to be careful about overcharging because once the water boiled off there was no way to replace it. I understood that so I used the solar panel and batteryminder while at home and just the solar panel when boondocking. I was told that the 5 watt would not keep the batteries charged yet I moved from ultraconservative to conservative to use of several fans on all day and one on all night. The batteries never waivered. Having said that, I would watch the batteries closely with some type of meter or gauge to make sure that you are not discharging them further than 50%.
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